- Important state and national stories, market and business news, sports and entertainment, delivered in quick-hit fashion to start your day informed.
1. Willis to be inducted in NFL Hall of Fame
Ole Miss football legend Patrick Willis will be inducted into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024.
Willis is just the third Rebel to ever enter the Hall of Fame, joining Bruiser Kinard (1970) and Gene Hickerson (2007). Willis and Kinard are in even more exclusive company as the lone two Rebels to now be part of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame, with Willis inducted in 2019 and Kinard in 1951.
Willis played for the Rebels from 2003 to 2006. He is one of the most decorated defensive players in Ole Miss football history.
2. USM’s Wallace chosen for Prestigious Research program
Dr. Maria Wallace, assistant professor in the Center for STEM Education at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), has been selected to the 2023-2025 cohorts of Early-Career Research Fellows sponsored by the Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Wallace is one of five Fellows chosen for the Education Research track. Five others were selected for the Offshore Energy Safety track.
The five fellows joining the Education Research track will contribute to the advancement of science, STEM, and environmental education in the Gulf of Mexico region or Alaska by considering the impacts of establishing sense-of-place in formal or informal learning environments.
National News & Foreign Policy
1. Special counsel won’t prosecute Biden over mishandling of classified documents while noting his “poor memory”
Robert Hur, the special counsel investigating President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, said on Thursday that he had decided not to seek prosecution in the matter.
Biden was being investigated for his handling of documents following his time as Vice President which the report says he “willfully” retained and disclosed some sensitive information. The documents contained information on Afghanistan as well as notes from White House briefings with “intelligence sources and methods.”
“He knew he kept classified information in notebooks stored in his house and he knew he was not allowed to do so,” Hur wrote, noting lapses in Biden’s memory when interviewed. “We have also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
The documents were found in a garage and living area of his Delaware home in January 2022.
“We conclude that the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Hur wrote.
In a national address Thursday night, Biden pushed back on the report, saying he never willfully kept the documents while comparing his situation to that of former President Donald Trump’s. Biden also sought to dispel concerns about this mental fitness but stumbles during his remarks left many commentators and onlookers unconvinced.
2. Carlson interviews Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin sat for an interview with Tucker Carlson earlier this week in Moscow. It aired on X (formerly Twitter) on Carlson’s feed on Thursday evening.
In the more than two-hour interview – the first with an American journalist since the war with Ukraine began – Putin pushed American leaders to stop sending weapons to Ukraine and urge Zelensky to sit down for talks.
Putin also said Russia had no plans to attack Poland or other NATO countries unless provoked.
Here is the video:
Sports & Entertainment
1. Ole Miss, Miss. State picked to finish last in SEC baseball poll
The 14 SEC head coaches picked Ole Miss and Mississippi State to finish last in the Western Division in the annual preseason poll released Thursday.
Arkansas was voted to finish first in the West while Florida was voted first in the East.
Mississippi State outfielder Dakota Jordan was voted to the 2nd Team for the 2024 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team.
2. Super Bowl LVIII set for 5:30CT Kickoff on Sunday
The San Francisco 49ers and the defending-champion Kansas City Chiefs will meet in Las Vegas on Sunday for Super Bowl LVIII.
Kickoff is set for 5:30CT on CBS. Nickelodeon is also airing an exclusive kids- and family-friendly broadcast.
Musical artist Usher will perform at halftime.
Markets & Business
1. Goal for Super Bowl ads: Avoid offending anyone
The Wall Street Journal reports that Super Bowl commercial marketers’ have an even deeper-than-usual desire to avoid offending anyone during this year’s big game.
Pointing to the Bud Light fiasco last year, WSJ reports that Super Bowl marketers as a result are trying to break through with humor that doesn’t cross any fault lines, according to Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
WSJ says, “Sunday’s telecast on CBS will include a slew of first-time national advertisers, including ice cream brand Drumstick, Robert Kraft’s “Stand Up to Jewish Hate” campaign, PepsiCo soft drink Starry, online marketplace Etsy, chocolate brand Lindt and cosmetics brand E.l.f. Cosmetics. They will join mainstays including M&Ms, Budweiser and Google.”
2. Drugmakers defend prices at Senate hearing
CNBC reports that the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb defended high drug prices in the U.S. at a Senate hearing on Thursday.
“At the hearing, Merck CEO Robert Davis and Bristol Myers Squibb CEO Chris Boerner did not commit to cutting the prices of certain drugs in the U.S. to match the lower prices in other high-income countries, such as Canada and Japan,” CNBC reported. “But they said they would welcome cheaper copycats into the market when the main patents on each of their top-selling drugs expire. Drugmakers are notorious for using different strategies to extend the exclusivity of lucrative drugs.”